The idea of reading fluency seems relatively straightforward. We know what it sounds like when a child can read fluently. They are reading accurately, at a good pace, and with appropriate expression. Their reading appears effortless and natural. However, fluent reading requires mastering a complex set of interacting skills and knowledge that does not come easily to all children.
When they are reading fluently, children are better able to understand what they are reading. Fluency has a very strong relationship with reading comprehension and that is why it is so important to include evidence-based fluency instruction in reading lessons.
The National Literacy Learning Progression in the Australian Curriculum describes fluency as
“how a student becomes increasingly faster, smoother, more accurate and expressive in their reading aloud of progressively complex print texts. At higher levels of the progression, students demonstrate comprehension of a text through confident use of intonation, pausing, accuracy and pace” (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d.).
Text or passage reading fluency is generally defined as having three components: accuracy, rate, and expression (or prosody). Children have poor text reading fluency if they read many words of a passage incorrectly, if they read slowly and with obvious effort, or if they read in a stilted or robotic way.